It's been almost 10 months since I learned that I had cancer. Three months later, on March 18th, I had 'life saving', and potentially life changing, surgery. Much of the time in between, and since, is a blur. But, there are scenes that don't easily fade – the call from my Doctor, in late December, telling me that I had cancer. Telling my children. Studying, and agonizing, over the treatment alternatives, and finally committing to surgery. On the morning of surgery, the nurse that asked, “how are you feeling today” (“I've got cancer, and I'm terrified, otherwise fine.”), being wheeled into the operating room and, just as everything went dark, marveling at the brightness of the surgical lights. Waking up, relieved, parched, nervous. The first “cancer free” test, a month later. And, the road to recovery – much of it on the seat of a bike. These are some of my memories. I suspect that other cancer patients and survivors each have their own. They are rarely far from the surface. They are the reason why, for me, this Israel Ride is different from the four that preceded it.
Today was the fourth day of riding on the 2010 Israel Ride. It was a fantastic day, starting with the amazing descent into the Machtesh at Mitzpe Ramon, and ending 77 miles later with an equally spectacular descent to Kibbutz Ketura in the Arava valley. The route between was all in the desert. It was beautiful. And, much to my pleasant surprise, I rode as well and as strongly as I have in years. If I was tired, friends pulled me along. If they were tired, I hope that I pulled them along as well. In either case, besides sharing my story with another rider, as I really couldn't otherwise explain my excitement about being here, the fears and memories of last March were about as distant as I could imagine. Perhaps as distant as if you'd asked me last March about this year's Israel Ride …. it was a distant dream.
Tonight, at Kibbutz Ketura, about 260 miles of the Israel Ride are behind me. We ride another 50 miles tomorrow, finishing at the beach in Eilat. I am in Israel, on a bike. I am cancer free. Life is good.
Postscript: lest you wonder, it's been seven months, and I'm cancer free. Prior to the surgery, my expected 10 year mortality was about 30%, perhaps higher. Today, it is less than 5%, and falling with each passing screening. I am truly fortunate.